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Just because the Toronto Maple Leafs are on a modest four-game winning streak doesn't mean general manager Brian Burke has stopped working the phones, exploring his trade options.

"My phone bill the last couple of weeks could feed a small country," Burke said Wednesday, following the Leafs afternoon practice at Arena here.

The only difference, according to Burke, is that the offers he's receiving are not quite as outrageous as when the Leafs were mired in a lengthy losing skid, and maybe they're not coming in nearly as frequently. Burke has long held the belief that trading players when you're down and out can be fraught with peril, because his colleagues are frequently just trying to throw him an anchor.

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As the Feb. 28 trade deadline approaches, Burke reiterated: "We're trying to add, not looking to dump. I'm getting fewer calls, better offers and our goal is to keep getting better."

The Leafs have edged past the Ottawa Senators, out of the basement in the Northeast Division and into 12th overall in the Eastern Conference. The Buffalo Sabres are only a point ahead. Still, they need to make up an 11-point gap on the eighth-place Atlanta Thrashers in order to move into a playoff spot - and the only good news there is they have three games in hand on the Thrashers.

"You've got to give the players credit," Burke said. "It's a different look and we're getting different results. Part of it is goaltending. Part of it is special teams. I think the attitude of the team is very positive right now. Obviously, picking up points on the road is crucial right now if you're trying to get back in the hunt. All you can do is claw back in the race."

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About the Author

Eric was the winner of the Hockey Hall Of Fame's Elmer Ferguson award for "distinguished contributions to hockey writing" in 2001. A graduate of the University of Western Ontario's grad school of journalism, he began covering hockey in 1978 and after spending 20 years covering the NHL and the Calgary Flames, joined The Globe in 2000. More

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